Hopenhagen or Flopenhagen?

Hu Ching

Hu Ching is a member of ECO Singapore, hoping to bring forward the gravity of the climate change issue in Copenhagen this December. The group is part of the International Youth Climate Movement (IYCM) at the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) .

Left to Right: Mohamed Maumoon (youth delegate from the Maldives), David Blood (Senior Partner, Gineration Investment Management), Jose Figueres (former President of Costa Rica), Lars Rasmussen (Prime Minister of Denmark), Katherine Richardson (Vice Dean, University of Copenhagen), Wang Guangtao (Chairman, Environment Protection and Resources Conservation Committee, National People’s Congress, China), Kumi Naidoo (Executive Director, Greenpeace International)

In a discussion session on the first day of COP15, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen concedes that he is not optimistic that the next 11 days can produce a legally-binding treaty.

Mr. Rasmussen was speaking at a panel discussion chaired by Jose Maria Figueres, the former President of Costa Rica, who managed to sustain high levels of economic growth in his country despite the implementation of a carbon tax in 1999.

During the session, Prime Minister Rasmussen was consistently reminded by the other speakers to push for a better deal at COP15.

Katherine Richardson, the vice dean of the University of Copenhagen, spoke with careful optimism, claiming that technology is available but “we’re only missing the political and social will to implement bold measures”. Kumi Naidoo, the new executive director of Greenpeace International, urged for the achievement of a “fair, ambitious, and binding deal”, and further appealed for negotiators to not settle for the lowest denominator in climate discussions.

Determined to make his voice heard, Mohamed Maumoon, a feisty teenager from the Maldives, asked for special permission to be excused from his panel seat to speak at the lectern. Already, chunks of the Maldives’ coastline are being submerged by rising sea water levels every day, yet majority of world leaders remain dangerously unaware of this. He challenged political and business leaders of the world who live in cities which are sheltered from the direct consequences of climate change to experience first-hand the effects of climate change on his homeland, to a standing ovation.

The session was concluded by Wanagri Maathai, the Nobel Peace Laureate in 2004 for her “contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace”. Professor Maathai urged for civil society leaders to not give up, and to continue to pressurize governments to implement pro-environmental pleasures.

Will Prime Minister Rasmussen listen to the wise words of an academic, an environmental activist, a youth delegate who has experienced climate change and a Nobel Peace Laureate? Whatever that took place in this conference room in Copenhagen is but a battle in our war against climate change.

This article was originally published at http://unfcccecosingapore.wordpress.com/

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